Explorations of the Wild Feminine, an Art Retreat.

10th August 2019 – 17th August 2019

With Terre Cerridwyn Busse

“We have forgotten that we were born
of celestial cataclysm.”

“We have forgotten how to dance
bare-footed on the earth to the cadence
of our souls. we have forgotten the ritual
fires and the acrid tang of holy smoke
on our tongues.”
― Beth Morey, Night Cycles: Poetry for a Dark Night of the Soul

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Explorations of the Wild Feminine through Paint, Story, Ritual and Adventure in Southern Spain

Including a workshop with me, Alice Mason on the Landscape and the Sacred Feminine in Nature.

http://www.art-retreat-spain.com

More details soon.

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Poetry Workshops

In the boarding school where I work, I held a poetry workshop with my Chinese teenage students.  To set the tone for their writing, I started by playing them Tarkovsky film clips, playing Bach’s Prelude no 8, talking about stream of consciousness poetry, playing them Mary Oliver reciting ‘Wild Geese’, discussing ideas about what, if anything, poetry means to them. I wrote key words on the board, discussed meanings of vocabulary such as elemental, melancholy, visceral, visual poetry, and ideas about how writing and creativity helps us heal. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I saw potential and vision in them. Some of these kids are just 13 and 14 and the depth of their insights astonished me. Although their English is far from perfect,  somehow this adds to the beauty and enriches the writing.  My intention was to create an atmosphere of freedom; of letting go of expectations, and allowing things to flow.  I didn’t want them to think about rhyming or meter, but about ideas, emotions, inspiration, flow, catharthis and candour.  Some of these kids have been in boarding schools since such a young age and have been under huge amounts of pressure to ‘succeed’ from parents and guardians.

If there is one thing I feel I can do for these kids it is to hold space for them, without judgement, and with encouragement in a safe space to allow them to express themselves.  Here is one example. I needed to keep it.

It’s called Hero.

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Sacred Mountain

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A woman in a blue veil stands in prayer before a sacred mountain.

In my Etsy shop.

 

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/664753402/sacred-mountain?ref=shop_home_active_1

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Winter

The path knows me so well

I stare through the patterned, cross-hatched twigs and branches

To the horizon

Illuminated by a swathe of pink light

Held up by a blur of grey

The cargo boats travel along the horizon

Like small towns gliding

 

Walking, I know how much I need this

Somatically,  psychologically

The stillness

No wind or rain

 

Ice puddles

My foot steps through the thin layer of ice

I enjoy the sound of the splintering

Cracking

Frost clings to the inert plants

 

Crows woosh above the layer of trees

that hold up the sea

Crows sound like winter

Their call feels like a slight mocking

A communication of some kind of mission

 

I see things in layers

Like my paintings

 

 

I stare up at the still

Milk-white sky

And I whisper

A benediction

 

 

 

 

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The Guitar Player

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House of Light

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—
that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and falling. And I do.

Mary Oliver.

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Woman and Cat

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Matt Licata

In the alchemical and tantric traditions, it is believed that our wounds contain information and if we eliminate the hurt places, we will lose contact with the intelligence within them. Though the complex may never be fully eradicated, our relationship with it can change profoundly. Even though it may continue to arise, it does so within the context of enormous space and while perhaps still frustrating and painful, it is no longer able to throw us off center in the same way and tends to dissolve in shorter and shorter periods of time.

For example, a difficult conversation triggering cascading shame, rage, overwhelm, and abandonment that once took an hour (or more) to digest and metabolize, may lose its charge in 30 minutes, or 15, or 5. Eventually, in some situations, we may even notice that the activated material dissolves simultaneously with its arising, as we are able to infuse arising experience with new levels of curiosity, warmth, and awareness.

In certain meditative experience, while challenging thoughts, feelings, and sensations continue to emerge in moments of activation, they lose their charge almost immediately, where the process of arising and dissolution co-emerge, revealing not two processes, but one. If we observe carefully we may not be able to separate the arising-dissolving cycle. This is something we can each experiment with, slowly, for a few seconds at a time, within the fire of our own direct experience.

And in this embodied investigation, we might come to realize that we need not get rid of or purge certain thoughts and feelings in order to live a life of freedom, spontaneity, creativity, and aliveness. But tend to the fire in a new way, reordering our perception, and infusing the material with a wild sort of love.

Matt Licata

Painting by me

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Random Christmas Family Musings

Christmas time.  ‘That time of year’, where families are sort of forced together, for a crazed amount of time; eating too much, drinking far too much, buying too much and spending too much time together.  It’s enough to send any ambivert running for Spanish mountains in self-imposed exile..    I have often wondered why I am so happy in my own company.  Often preferring it to the company of others.  After all, I grew up in a large family,  with so many cousins and joyful social occasions, which still continue to this day.

I  wonder why I turn down so many offers to join things.  I was once asked to join a book group, and was told that being asked to join said book group was quite an honour.  I told the group leader that I was flattered, but had no desire to join it, and that if I did join it, I would never come, I wouldn’t read the books and certainly wouldn’t make the instagramable food required when it was my turn to host and they would be lucky to get beans on toast.. I also said I rarely read fiction, and only read what I want to read, and they would end up hating me.  I thought it was funny, but she wasn’t happy with my refusal.  Tant pis, I thought.

This year, I have been lucky enough to be invited to lots of parties, but I also haven’t wanted to drink too much which has proved interesting.  I am also very prone to hibernate and become introspective at this time of year, which is completely natural, considering the majority of the plant world is asleep and I want to join them.  I rise slowly in the mornings and drink my tea slowly, and unfurl myself into the day like a sedated sloth.  When teaching term begins, it feels so unnatural and harsh to have to fling my clothes together and put on make up and brush my hair, gathering books together and force myself into the car for the 45 minute car journey, trying to formulate some kind of lesson plan for my international students, hoping that I can offer them some novel way of learning English, when really I would rather be painting, sleeping or walking along the cliff path to contemplate the sea.

Tonight I had some kind of realisation or mild epiphany, that it is because I have been a sort of mother my entire life.  As the eldest I was given sibling  babies and children  to look after by my well-meaning mother for years, well into my teens.  I was babysitting when i should have been tucked up in bed myself, with someone babysitting me too, while my socialite parents were out on their respective musical explorations several times a week.

No wonder, that as soon as I could, i chose to attend art college in Bath, far away from my family’s home.  And after that at the age of 24 I took off for France and then America for years, to reinvent myself as this person not defined by any care-giving role, or relationship within my first family’s dynamics.

Whenever I am thrown back into these first-family dynamics, I feel a sort of distance, and retreat into myself a bit.  Not wanting to be defined as big sister.  This summer, at my youngest sister’s birthday party my Mum said to me ‘Give your baby sister a piece of cake’. At first I was taken aback, and didn’t know who my baby sister was supposed to be.. who did she mean? It hit a raw nerve, and I told my Ma that she was not my baby sister; that my sister was in fact 48 and a mother herself and also a primary school teacher.  Maybe that’s why i have chosen this role as artist, bohemian, wanderer, part-time non-contractual teacher, always self employed, always longing for a place where I can just be Alice, the gypsy artist.  I feel I am afraid of commitment in a sense, and as soon as someone defines me in some sort of role, I run a metaphorical mile..  I’ve been married twice, but rejected the word and role of  ‘wife’, preferring ‘partner’   but not the word mother as that is definitely a felt and loved role..but in a very non-traditional sense.  I want my children to be my best friends, but am always their mother when I am needed.

At a family party the other day, i was the designated driver, so decided I would just drink tea.  Everyone was drinking copious amounts of very expensive sparkling gin.  It was flowing, everyone was excited, playing charades, (a family tradition.)  Without the numbing effects of alcohol, I found the noise levels so intense, and escaped to the kitchen and chatted to chaotic, gin-fuelled cousins and nieces, their boyfriends and girlfriends,  cousins in law, random friends and husbands.  It was fairly amusing and i tried to be amiable and as jolly as they were.  Once back on the road with my middle sister, I felt the embrace of the dark trees and country roads, relatively car-free and a feeling of freedom and peace took hold..

New year’s eve was a different story.  I went out with my party-loving glamourous  friend Tara.  We danced; kissed strangers, drank prossecco,  watched fireworks,  sat around a fire on the beach. Then the party continued in a friend’s flat. I fell asleep on the sofa and awoke to bright blue skies.

May 2019 be full of blue skies and dancing.

 

 

 

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Vitality and creativity

“Our vitality is inextricably bound up with creativity. Like a tree whose expression is fruit, giving our gifts is what keeps life pushing through our veins. It’s what keeps us feeling alive. As anyone who has strayed too far from their creativity knows, without it every corner of one’s life can fall prey to a terrible greying spread. As Kahlil Gibran writes about trees in an orchard, “They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.” – Toko-pa Turner, Belonging (belongingbook.com)

 

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